Canine Parvovirus is a leading cause of death from infectious disease among domestic dogs worldwide. The virus that was first discovered in 1978 is highly infectious and potentially deadly gastrointestinal (GI) disease that mainly affects puppies and adolescent dogs – mostly vaccinated – but may be passed on to adult dogs too at times. Canine Parvovirus is considered most threatening to puppies between the time of weaning and 6 months of age. (Also read: Dear pet parents, here are 5 most important vaccinations for your dogs)
What makes it even more contagious is that the virus remains in the environment for a long time and begins shedding within just 4-5 days of infection, even before the affected dog has any visible symptoms. The shedding continues throughout the period of sickness and up to 10 days after recovery.
Experts say it is important to quarantine your dog or puppy if affected by parvovirus to protect other dogs from getting it.
“This hardy virus can spread from an infected dog as well as faeces, and survive on most surfaces and in most conditions till an entire year, with puppies under 4 months and older unvaccinated dogs being most susceptible,” says Dr. Vinod Sharma, Head of Veterinary Services at DCC Animal Hospital.
Dr. Sharma says the symptoms begin with appetite loss, fever or low temperature, and escalate to vomiting and severe diarrhoea, often bloody. (Also read: Pet care: Strawberries to cucumber; 5 healthy treats for your dog)
Parvovirus has a high mortality rate and most deaths occur within 2-3 days of symptoms. It is imperative to get your dog admitted to hospital if you spot any signs and symptoms.
“Infected dogs or puppies require immediate veterinary care, since most deaths occur within just 48-72 hours after the first signs of illness. What’s more, treatment is not only quite expensive but has a high mortality rate of up to 30%; and without proper treatment in a hospital, it is even higher,” says Dr Sharma.
How to protect your dog from parvovirus
* Proper vaccinations are imperative for puppies within 6-16 weeks of age, before which, they should be kept in a hygienic and safe environment.
* Avoid taking any newly brought puppies out to meet other humans or dogs, as tempting as it might be. For older dogs, avoid contact with any dogs whose vaccination status you don’t know.
* The full series of puppy vaccinations include one for canine parvovirus, which is usually administered in a three-shot series, between 6-to-8 weeks of age, 10-to-12 weeks, and at 14-to-16 weeks. After this, a booster shot is necessary one year later, and then once in every year. It is crucial to keep the vaccination status up to date so that the body’s immune system is most likely sufficient enough to prevent this infection.
“The canine parvovirus is deadly and quick-acting, but fully vaccinated animals receive excellent protection from the virus as long as the vaccination is properly done by qualified veterinarians with effective vaccines,” says Dr Sharma.